by Nic Esposito
Greetings from the Climate 40 (C40) Cities World Mayors Summit in Copenhagen! Created and led by cities, C40 is focused on tackling climate change and driving urban action that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and climate risks, while increasing the health, wellbeing and economic opportunities of urban citizens.
This blog post will be the first in a three part series covering the Philadelphia delegation’s trip which includes Mayor Kenney and staff in the fields of international trade, climate, energy, water, transportation and waste, to the summit. Before I get into the incredible things I have learned since landing only 24 hours ago, I first wanted to frame for Grid readers the importance of this conference.
C40 membership now includes almost 100 of the largest world cities accounting for over 50 percent of the world’s population and almost 70 percent of world emissions. Mayor Kenney joins his fellow mayors on this world stage to send the message that cities need to lead the charge to address the climate crisis, the existential threat to our planet.
Mayor Kenney was asked to deliver opening remarks for the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) conference which is a side conference of the C40 World Mayors Summit. The Mayor spoke on themes of “inclusion for all” and “urban regeneration” using the Rebuild Initiative as an example. Although I was not there to witness these remarks, later that night at dinner with urban design colleagues that did attend the conference, they were inspired and invigorated by the Mayor’s remarks. Their summation was that while a lot of cities are talking about the climate crisis and the need to act, we’re actually doing it in Philadelphia. I completely understand that for many Philadelphians the path to change may not be happening as fast as many would like. But to hear colleagues from many important world cities glean from the Mayor’s comments that in Philadelphia we recognize our issues and face them head on with concrete planning and action was a great reminder of why I get up and go to work every day.
As for what I have learned from Copenhagen after just one day, there are really two things. The first is that their bike infrastructure is incredible and is something every city should strive for. I’ve never felt calmer or safer than being in a curb protected bike lane with many fellow riders all following the same well thought out rules of the road.
The second is the collaborative nature of businesses to find market based solutions to our climate issues. A majority of my past 24 hours has been meeting with multiple businesses that work in the climate and sustainable waste management field. Businesses here seem to approach their partnerships collaboratively, with an ethic of “here’s what we do and how can we help.” We need much more of this collaborative, solutions-oriented approach in our private sector.
Tomorrow, I plan to provide a recap of our Thriving Cities Master class. Thriving Cities is a pilot that Philadelphia is embarking on with C40, Circle Economy and Doughnut Economics Action Lab. The pilot will ask the question of how can a city’s residents and economy thrive while reducing consumption and waste to address the climate crisis—a big question for a city with a 24.5 percent poverty rate whose economy is just starting to grow again after years of decline. I’ll also report back on Mayor Kenney’s participation on the “Future Without Waste” panel. Until then, thanks for reading and I look forward to continuing to represent our great city at this summit.
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